Have you Gili-ed? I did! And believe me, Gili Islands are marvelous.
I went to Lombok with a group of friends (Theo, Alvin and Mizah) end of October 2015, and the trip was arranged almost a year ahead.
We landed at Bandar Udara Internasional Lombok (the airport) around 5 pm and took a taxi to our hotel in Mataram. The 30 minutes taxi ride to Mataram, specifically M Hotel, was around IDR 200 000 for 4 people. We planned to stay one night in Mataram as the last ferry to the Gili Islands was only up to 4 pm.
M Hotel is an average hotel, located in Mataram Town. After checking in, we quickly refreshed ourselves and went for dinner at Taliwang Irama. Theo had read good reviews of Taliwang Irama, a restaurant which is famous for their ayam taliwang. Ayam taliwang is similar to grilled chicken, served with sambal which is a mixture of shrimp paste, chili and garlic. We took a couple of sides as well, which were pelecing kangkung and pecel. Total damage was close to IDR 300 000 for the 4 of us. Since the food was delicious, it was definitely worth it.
There wasn’t much to do in Mataram at night. We walked along the streets of Mataram after the taxi dropped us off at our hotel in hopes to find a night market or anything interesting basically. After getting ourselves some snacks at the convenience, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.
We left our hotel around 8 am for Bangsal Jetty using the same taxi service as yesterday. The journey to Bangsal Jetty was around 45 minutes. It was interesting to watch Lombok town during the day. School girls donned the same pigtails hairstyle, a group of monkeys roaming at the winding downhill road and of course the clear blue skies! Prior to the trip, our country was covered with haze and the sight of blue skies made us count our blessings.
As we reached Bangsal Jetty (taxi ride around IDR 180 000), we headed straight to the ticket counter to buy the ferry tickets. Take note that there wasn’t that much difference between the private boat and the ferry. My advice on this is, if you don’t mind paying extra and can’t afford to wait for the ferry, you can take a private boat. I didn’t know we were lucky or what, but we didn’t have to wait so long for the ferry (ferry ride around IDR 22 500 each). So off we went to the anticipated Gili Trawangan, a journey of about 30 minutes from the jetty.
I could only curse in amazement seeing the clear blue water of Gili Trawangan as soon as the ferry alongside at the edge of the beach. We carried our luggage and wandered around Gili T’s “town” for some food. After a mediocre brunch of pizza, we stopped a cidomo (a mobil with 2 wheels supported by the mechanism of horse power, literally) to bring us to our hotel – Ombak Sunset. We tried to negotiate a price with the cidomo driver but he refused. Thinking that the hotel was just around the corner, the four of us continued walking only to find ourselves silently questioning to ourselves, “Are we there yet?”. After 10 minutes of walking and dragging our luggage (mine and Mizah’s), we finally stopped another cidomo and tried to negotiate the price once again. This time, it was a win but because it was a Friday, we had to pay another IDR 25 000 on top of the negotiated price of IDR 100 000 as the driver needed to rush to the mosque for Friday prayer.
The blue waters of Gili T
We were in awe, marveling at the beautiful creation of God as the cidomo driver steered the horse to bring us to our destination. The sea was so blue, I could just jump out of the cidomo and bathed in the sea. Luckily we didn’t walk to Ombak Sunset because the distance was not exactly walking-friendly. The scorching heat of the sun would not help with the journey either. After a 15 minutes cidomo ride, we finally reached Ombak Sunset. Apparently, our hotel and a few others were on the quieter side of the island as there were less people roaming around.
Ombak Sunset provided its own bicycle rental service which we paid around IDR 60 000 each for a 2 day rent. We cycled around the island later that afternoon. The island was small, and to cycle around it only took you roughly 40 minutes. Theo took a dive in the sea hoping to find turtles but could not find any to his dismay. We were also made known that our side of the island even had sharks.
Then, we cycled to the happening side of the island, which I would call Gili T’s “town” and stopped by at a restaurant by the beach for tea time. Just lying down at their gazebo, facing the sea and munching our food made us sleepy and groggy. Oh my, I just loveee vacations!
Chilling by the beach
We left the place at 5 pm and went to one of the tour agencies to book our snorkelling trip for tomorrow (IDR 100 000 each). Then, we raced back to the hotel only to regret it later (specifically Mizah and I). Our butt cheeks suffered the pain of the bumpy ride. As we reached our hotel, we parked our bicycles outside our room and walked to the beachfront.
Ombak Sunset is famous for its Datu Swing, a swing that is partially delved in the water. It was the attraction on this side of the island. People were lining up just to get a few shots at the swing. There were actually 3 swings; the main one is the Datu Swing meanwhile the other 2 are nameless and a one-seater. We were jumping into the bandwagon as well, taking a few shots of us and the swing even after the sun had set in the horizon.
Datu Swing at Ombak Sunset
Dinner time, we were back on our bicycles to go to town. Gili T has a pasar malam or also known as night market. The waft of grilled fish lingered in the air and tempted us to savour the food at the pasar malam. We ordered grilled fish, vege and some rice for IDR 150 000 for 4 pax. The grilled fish was a bit raw to my disappointment. After dinner, we went to Sama Sama Bar and Restaurant to unwind. The music was good and we were singing and dancing lightly to the music beat. A local even encountered us and randomly asked us whether we wanted ecstasy or not. After a couple of hours, we left the place and cycled back to Ombak Sunset to get sufficient rest for the next day.
We had the option to choose between flippers or life jacket for our snorkelling trip. I decided to give flippers a go, except for Alvin. It didn’t take long for the boat to arrive. As we entered the boat, we saw that the boat had a glass-bottom surface in the middle. We were able to see the pretty corals and fish on our way to our snorkelling spot. The first spot was within the waters of Gili Meno. I got into the water and immediately struggled with the flippers. Panicking slightly, I swam back to the boat and switched the flippers to a life jacket.
The view from the glass bottom boat
The waters of Gili Meno boasts an abundance of corals that I could not find in the waters of Phuket. We swam and snorkelled for a little while before the boatman called us back to the boat.
The second spot for snorkelling was the most interesting part of our Gili trip. This time, one of the boatman’s friends jumped into the water and led us to see turtles! We didn’t have to snorkel far to come across two. The turtles were swimming gently and oblivious to our presence. It was a fascinating experience for us as it was definitely not a daily affair to come across the almost extinct creature. We continued to swim a bit further to see more turtles but I was starting to feel tired. Luckily Theo was around, so he called for the boat and got two random heroes to send me back to it. Mizah and Theo came back not long after, excited to share us their experience of seeing 5 turtles! One of the turtles even went up to the surface to get some air and swam back down again.
We came to our last snorkelling spot but almost all of us in the boat were de-energised already. A quick swim in the sea, and off we went for lunch in Gili Air.
We reached Gili T around 3 pm and booked our fast boat ride to Bali for the next day. That evening we were treated to a complimentary tea time and chilled at Ombak Sunset’s beachfront. For dinner, we went to Gili T town and strolled along the streets afterwards to find souvenirs. Since we were leaving for Bali the next day, we went back to the hotel early to pack our stuff.
Breakfast at Ombak Sunset was good. I felt sad, having to leave Gili T as I have fallen in love with Gili T in such a short time. Theo, Mizah and I walked to the beach and further as the water receded in the morning. We could see starfish – dangly and brown in colour in the water. There were also live corals in light blue and pinkish red. Since there wasn’t anyone around the swings in the morning, we took the opportunity to take more pictures of us. Around 10.30 am, we went back to our room and checked out of the hotel.
A must shot at Gili T